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Patented laser engraved bricks solve problems

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - Bricks featuring personalized inscriptions are sold to supporters and then installed at the sponsoring organization. Traditionally, commemorative brick programs have been used by hospitals, zoos, libraries, parks, schools, museums, etc. More recently, programs have been offered by sports teams and venues as an alternative revenue source and unique method of fan participation.

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FIGURE 1. Brick Markers® patented laser engraving offers a level of detail and complexity not attainable with traditional methods.

Traditional engraving techniques (such as sandblasting and pantographing) suffer from problems that greatly limit program potential. Brick Markers® patented laser engraving processes enhance program potential by offering solutions to the following problems: an inability to produce highly detailed and complex images; loss of structural integrity; deterioration of fillers; poor warranties; and environmentally unfriendly products.

The inability to produce highly detailed images can greatly limit the fundraising potential of a program. The level of detail offered by laser engraving can be used to enhance revenue by differentiating contribution levels across a broad product line. For example, a zoo could offer various animal images tied to certain levels of giving (e.g., an elephant could denote a greater contribution than a monkey, etc.). Likewise, bricks featuring company logos are appealing to businesses since they offer high visibility, image enhancement, and advertising benefits. Additionally, laser engraving provides unsurpassed capability to produce arrays, a large picture that is assembled from individually engraved bricks and put together like a puzzle. As seen in FIGURE 1, the level of detail and complexity that can be achieved with laser engraving far surpasses that attainable with traditional techniques.

Loss of structural integrity results when traditional engraving is employed. Engraving certain letters results in small “islands” being created, such as the triangle at the top of the “A”. “Islands” severely compromise the integrity of the brick and therefore the durability of the inscription. As can be seen in FIGURE 2, the loss of structural integrity leaves the “islands” subject to breaking as a result of freeze-thaw weathering and normal wear and tear. As the letters deteriorate, the inscription becomes increasingly illegible. Laser engraving doesn’t produce “islands” or compromise the structural integrity of the brick. Consequently, legibility is never compromised due to “islands” breaking away.

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FIGURE 2. Traditional engraving leaves islands which are subject to breaking.

Deterioration of fillers is a common malady of traditionally engraved bricks. To create contrast with the engraved surface and/or reduce problems associated with “islands”, engravers typically utilize paint or epoxy filler. Paint creates contrast, but is subject to fading and peeling and does not protect the “islands”. Therefore, paint offers a less satisfactory solution than epoxy filler. While the epoxy filler adds contrast and slows deterioration of the islands, this solution is also far from ideal. Sunlight results in the filler oxidizing and an associated loss of contrast. Different rates of expansion and contraction result in peeling and separation of the filler from the brick. As seen in FIGURE 3, deteriorating fillers result in an unattractive brick and increasingly illegible inscription. Laser engraving offers the ideal solution. The engraved portion of the clay brick is vitrified, producing a glass inscription harder than the brick. It uses no fillers and is not subject to fading, oxidation, peeling, or separation from the engraved brick.

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FIGURE 3. Fillers used in traditional engraving are subject to fading, oxidation, peeling, and separation.

Poor warranties are typically offered by engravers employing traditional techniques. Such warranties are vague. For example, the warranty might state that the engraving “will remain legible”. Items with poor contrast or missing filler could indeed be legible — at least for a period of time. But this seems like a very low standard. Would you like to be the proud owner of the brick shown in FIGURES 2 or 3? Because laser engraving does not compromise the structural integrity of the brick and does not use paint or fillers, it has become the “gold standard” of the industry. It offers unsurpassed durability and can be confidently guaranteed not to fade, chip, oxidize, peel, or separate for the life of the surface of the engraved brick.

Environmentally unfriendly products are often the end result of traditional engraving and fill methods. Laser engraving is the ultimate “green” technology and uses no solvents, paints, plastics, or volatile organic compounds.

Given the many advantages of laser engraving, it would be easy to think of it as unaffordable. However, laser engraving’s superior image detail, permanent and maintenance-free inscription, unparalleled warranty, and environmental advantages are available at a price competitive with traditional engraving methods.

This article was prepared for ILS by Sharon Rieck, president and owner of Brick Markers® USA. Her company is the sole source of the exclusive patented Vitralase® and Vitrix® laser engraving processes. To contact a sales representative in your area go to http://www.brickmarkers.com/findarep.htm or call (800) 634-8948.

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